At ASCO Annual Meeting, a Candid Look at Conflict of Interest

Cynthia J. Gordon, PhD


July 08, 2015

In This Article

The Sunshine Act

Regardless of the quality of the research or researcher, the rising tide of industry-funded research has led to some concerns.

"There have been a lot of questions in the system about transparency," said Richard Gaynor, MD, an employee of Eli Lilly and Company and one of the panelists at the session.

If a physician collaborates with industry, he asked, could this affect prescribing patterns? In addition, how do you inform patients about these relationships?

Enter the Sunshine Act. Introduced as a bill in 2007 by senators Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa) and Herbert Kohl (D, Wisconsin), the legislation stated: "Right now the public has no way to know whether a doctor's been given money that might affect prescribing habits."[11] In 2010, the Sunshine Act was passed into law as part of the Affordable Care Act.[12]

The purpose of the act was to require manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices that are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance Program to report any financial relationships (ie, "transfers of value" [TOVs]) with physicians (ie, "covered recipients"). Tracking of payments began on August 1, 2013, and data collected for a 5-month period—through December 31, 2013—were reported to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and made public on September 20, 2014, on the CMS Open Payments website.[13]

The publically posted data comprise two types of transactions: "research reports," which cover payments related to clinical trials, and "general reports," which include payments in the form of travel expenses, food and beverages, consulting fees, honoraria, and the like. Transactions in the research reports section are summarized at the study level, and those in the general reports section are listed at the individual physician level.

In addition to the direct payments made by companies, indirect payments are also listed. Indirect payments comprise TOVs made via a third party—for example, through a grant provided by the Conquer Cancer Foundation that is funded by a pharmaceutical company.


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